Thursday, 28 May 2009

Mairead in Obamaland


On May 15th last my friend Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, was detained by Home Security in the new Obamaland that is the USA

She was returning from Guatemala where she was attending a Women's Conference hosted by women Nobel Laureates.

According to a press release from the Free Gaza Movement, she was pressurized to tick a box that stated she was a criminal! The news came late and I have contacted Mairead for further details.

We have been hoping against hope that President Barack Obama would change the soul of the American administration from the evil ghost it had become under George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

Is hope still alive? Is the President a kind of Pope John XXIII, gagged and hindered from doing what he wants to do by Congress and sinister powers that can control Congress?

Are his disastrous and murderous incursions into Afghanistan a sop to those powers before he feels strong enough to bring all the troops home?

It is a dire prospect that he would gamble with lives and human rights like this.

And this is the better of two terrible scenarios

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Maura Harrington Jailed Again

Since May 19 2009, Maura Harrington, a charismatic figure in the struggle against Shell concerning Mayo's gas fields, has been incarcerated in Mountjoy prison for the second time in three months. Once again, she was driven on the long road from Belmullet to Dublin to serve a prison sentence, this time for refusing on principle to pay a £300 fine. At short notice an outraged group of Dublin supporters blocked the Garda van for 20 minutes and prevented it from entering Mountjoy prison until Gardai forcibly removed the protestors

She had already spent 28 days in the notorious prison, a sentence which began on 11 March last. On that occasion, Judge Mary Devins, wife of a Fianna Fail Junior Minister in the Irish Government, ordered that she receive a psychiatric examination.


Wikipedia's entry says: "Maura Harrington (born 15 September 1953) is a spokeswoman for the Shell to Sea campaign, from County Mayo, Ireland. A recently retired school principal, on 9 September 2008 she began a hunger strike in protest at the arrival of the Solitaire, an Allseas pipe-laying ship assisting Royal Dutch Shell's Corrib gas project. The strike took place at the gates of the Shell compound in Glengad in Erris, in her car. It ended after the ship left Ireland for repairs.

"Harrington was previously involved in fundraising for the British Miners' Strike.

"On 11 November 2006, Harrington was hospitalised after a baton-charge by Garda Síochána at Bellanaboy left her with head injuries.

"No-one was charged with the assault.

"She appeared in Belmullet District Court on 8 October 2008 accused of a public order offence related to her "lunging" towards President Mary McAleese at the official opening of a civic centre in Belmullet in April 2007. In March 2009, she was found guilty of this charge. She was also found guilty of assaulting a Garda during a fracas which saw several protesters injured[5]. For this, she was given a sentence of 28 days imprisonment, fined and bound to keep the peace for 12 months, though she refused to pay the fine or sign the bond. The judge in the case, Mary Devins, also directed Harrington to receive a psychiatric assessment due to what she described as her "bizarre" behaviour.

"Harrington denied both charges, and refused to give evidence in protest after Judge Devins refused to allow video evidence of the incident of the assault to be shown".


On 12 March 2009, Senator David Norris raised the matter of Maura's imprisonment, and the Judge's comments and order, in the Irish Seanad.

Senator David Norris: "I ask for a debate on the Corrib gas field. I do so in light of my considerable concern at the jailing of Ms Maura Harrington and the process which led to it.

"A former Minister of the Government gave this field away for nothing. The Minister concerned was subsequently jailed in the wake of a corruption scandal. He gave it away to Shell, one of the worst polluters and one of the most avid multinationals. It has been involved in incidents of pollution and was deeply implicated in the judicial murder of Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa. It literally got away with murder in Kenya and there have been explosions in many other places where it has oil terminals.

"I am concerned about this and would be very sorry if, after the Garda having been enlisted on behalf of a multinational, the courts system would begin to play a role in this matter.

"Judges are above criticism, apparently, and we cannot even ask questions about their remuneration. They are immune from cuts. I am concerned when judges feel free to comment widely on the personality traits of somebody they are sentencing, this is not a judicial matter.

"She then referred Ms. Harrington for psychiatric examination in addition to jailing her for 28 days. Are we returning to eastern Europe? Is it an attempt to use psychiatry to control political expression? This is terribly dangerous territory."